This list is made up of songs I came across in 2008, rather than ones which were actually released in 2008. That’s just the ‘whacky’ way I roll.
Lovingly plucked from my iTunes in no particular order, the soundtrack to 2008:
1. Lakes of Canada – The Innocence Mission
This reminds me of a certain blogger travelling all the way from St Andrew’s to Oxford to perform this song at the local open mic night, only to find we were five minutes too late to get on the set. We ended up playing it for an audience of three in a living room with tea. Recommended for fans of: Joni Mitchell, fluted sleeves, cycling in snow, distance, birdflight.
( Track downloadable from http://www.theinnocencemission.com/music.htm).
2. FIYA – The Tune-Yards
Deliciously lo-fi ukelele pop that tinkles and blips and jangles just enough to sweeten the comfortably sad vocals that escalate into howl. Bit of an 80s oddessy bassline kicks in at 3:21, but it all adds to the song’s home-made charm.
(Listen @ http://www.myspace.com/merrillgarbus).
3. Paris is Burning (Alex Gopher Remix)
This wins the best remix of the year (with stiff competition from LA Riots’ remix of Justice’s ‘The Party’). Takes a perfectly acceptable piece of jangly pop and vamps it through the roof with screeches, bangs, and a whole new breakdown. Love what he has done with the chorus: gone are the casual laments/convenient rhymes. Just Paris and panic.
4. Evergreen – Celebration
There’s something in the sheer width of this song and the clambering organ-chords that reminds me of Arcade Fire, but this is altogether less desperate, more cooly observant. Still just as lush and mysterious though.
(Listen @ http://www.myspace.com/celebrationcelebration).
5. Swimming Song – Kate & Anna McGarrigle
One of the songs I discovered at Catweazle club (www.catweazleclub.org) which, every time I listen to it, without fail makes me wish I was at a folk festival somewhere in a forest or a valley or a hill or a dale with a campfire and a river and a bottle of whisky and a couple of good friends to laugh and be brave with….and makes me wish I could swim.
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3u_XzLx8ck).
6. The Book of Love – Magnetic Fields
Another gem dug up from Catweazle. The muted lachrymose boom of Stephin Merritt is oddly haunting and adds a wistful layer onto this otherwise straightforwardly sweet love song.
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3HQZ9B4XHQ. For a cover version which is less of an odd mixture of Jonathan Richman & Leonard Cohen visit http://www.rosepolenzani.com/MP3/The_Book_of_Love.mp3).
7. Sleepyhead – Passion Pit
Sample -check. Handclaps -check. Thumping thumping this-is-what-it-means-to-be-alive beat at 1:01 -check. Synth twiddle -check. This could be the perfect song. The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ for 2008.
8. Lovers Who Uncover (Crystal Castles Remix) – The Little Ones
I promised myself I would limit this list to one remix, but this has served me too well getting ready for countless nights out to ignore. Nothing profound, just guitars meeting goth-trance. Like being in a nightclub in a gameboy.
9. Horse & I – Bat for Lashes
Can I write about Bat for Lashes without mentioning Bjork and Kate Bush? No, if only to point out that these ubiquitous comparisons essentially translate to the following: She’s female and has her own ideas. Like Bjork and Kate Bush, it took time for the full genius of Natasha Khan to become apparent to me, which essentially reads: it took time for my imagination to catch up.
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcrPewT3NJ0).
10. In Our Talons – Bowerbirds
If I didn’t find those ‘like X meets Y at unlikely event Z’-type comparisons so nauseatingly cliché, I’d describe Bowerbirds to the uninitiated as Neutral Milk Hotel’s younger, more popular cousin meets Sufjan Stevens at a Tilly and the Wall gig. Of course I have far more imagination than that, so I will simply say: they work.
(Watch @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxudKL1IB6U).